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Using census data - an example from the Church of Scotland

With the first of our topic reports from Scotland’s Census 2022 due to be published in May, we wanted to find out more about how different people and organisations use the data. The first topic report covers Ethnic Group, national identity, language and religion and our guest blogger is the Rev Dr Fiona Tweedie who is both a minister and statistician with the Church of Scotland.

The Church of Scotland is made up of congregations the length and breadth of Scotland, every place is part of a Church of Scotland parish. We rely on Scotland’s Census for local information – nothing else provides the level of detail on the topics that we need. Congregations use all kinds of Census information to help them better serve their communities, from household structure to languages used, age ranges to education levels, and more.

To succeed in grant applications these days, groups have to show evidence for what they need, and we have a set of Census profiles for parishes on our web site. They help local groups understand their whole community, not just the people they know, or happen to see. If the profiles are ever unavailable, we hear about it, so we know people rely on them. We’ll be working to keep them updated as information from Scotland’s Census 2022 is made available.

For the Church of Scotland, supporting the poorest people in society is at the heart of all it that it does. Scotland’s Census data is used to inform other statistics that we rely on, such as the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. This in turn informs where we put extra resources and staff.

At a national level, we use the population and religion figures to decide where to fund ministry posts – allocating more clergy and other staff to not only where there are more people who say they belong to the Kirk, but also to areas where people say they don’t have another faith.

We use data from Scotland’s Census at all levels, from the very local to national - not just about religion, but also so many other topics – we’re excited about what we’ll learn in 2024, and how we can use the data to help people all over Scotland.

Rev Dr Fiona Tweedie, Ordained Local Minister and Statistician with the Church of Scotland

Check back here for more blogs from the Scotland’s Census 2022 team and to hear from more organisations on how they will use the data.